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VOL.

213, SEPTEMBER 2, 1992 345


People vs. De Jesus
G.R. No. 91535. September 2, 1992.*

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs.EDUARDO DE JESUS y LIAMSY,


CARLOS TUPAZ y PAMINTUAN, accused-appellants.

Criminal Procedure; Constitutional Law; Right to counsel and to Miranda warnings


during custodial investigations.—The right to counsel attaches upon the start of an
investigation, i.e., when the investigating officer starts to ask questions to elicit information
or confession or admission from the accused. Appellant in this case was already arrested as
one of the principal suspects in the killing of Garcia when he was turned over to Pfc. Lorbes
for investigation. According to the testimony of Cpl. Limpoco, he, together with his team,
was ordered to make a follow-up investigation of a stabbing incident that happened at the
New Pasig Public Market on or about September 8, 1987; and that their target persons
were one Eddie and another Tupaz. Consequently, the “interview” conducted by Pfc. Lorbes
cannot be considered merely as a general inquiry but rather a custodial investigation.
Custodial investigation is the stage where the police investigation is no longer a general
inquiry into an unsolved crime but has began to focus on a particular suspect who had been
taken into custody by the police who carry out a process of interrogation that lends itself to
elicit incriminating statements. It is when questions are initiated by law enforcement
officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of
action in any significant way.

APPEAL from the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig,


Metro Manila, Br. 164.

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* SECOND DIVISION.

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346 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
People vs. De Jesus
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
William S. Pamintuan for Carlos Tupaz.

NOCON, J.:
The main issue raised in this appeal is whether admissions obtained
during custodial interrogations without the benefit of Miranda
warnings and in the absence of counsel are admissible in evidence
when the same are later reduced into writing and signed in the
presence of counsel.
Accused Carlos Tupaz filed this appeal from the decision of the
Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Metro Manila in Criminal Case No.
70857, finding him and his co-accused, Eduardo de Jesus guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery with Homicide. The
dispositive portion of the decision reads:
“ACCORDINGLY, the Court finds the accused Ruel Capistrano NOT GUILTY of the offense
herein charged for insufficiency of evidence so that said charge should be and is hereby
DISMISSED as against him; and that the accused Carlos Tupaz and Eduardo de Jesus are
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery with Homicide as charged and
therefore hereby sentences each of them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua;and in
solidum, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased Leonardo Garcia the sum of P30,000.00
and to restitute to Nelson Garcia, the brother of the victim, the amount of P7,000.00
which he spent for the wake and funeral of his deceased brother.”1

The accused were charged in an Amended Information which reads:


“That on or about the 8th day of September, 1987, in the Municipality of Pasig, Metro
Manila, Philippines, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named
accused, conspiring and confederating together and all of them mutually helping and aiding
one another, armed with a dagger, a stainless knife and an icepick, with intent to gain,
without the knowledge and against the will of the owner thereof and by means of force and
intimidation, did then and

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1 Rollo, p. 44.

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VOL. 213, SEPTEMBER 2, 1992 347
People vs. De Jesus
there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously take, rob and divert from one Leonardo Garcia y
Carian a tricycle driver, cash money amounting to P40.00; that on the occasion of the said
robbery and for the purpose of insuring success in their criminal acts, the said accused with
intent to kill, conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping and aiding with
one another, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab
said Leonardo Garcia y Carian, thereby causing the latter to sustain fatal stab wounds
which directly caused his death.”2

The facts as found from the records reveal that on September 8,


1987, at about 8:30 p.m., three unidentified men flagged down the
tricyle of Leonardo Garcia. After a few minutes’ ride, Leonardo was
stabbed 17 times on the neck, trunk and on the extremities, causing
his death.3 His meager earning that day of P40.00 was taken from
him.
The case of Leonardo was referred to Pat. Rogelio Lorbes for
investigation after a certain Violeta de Vera reported to the Pasig
Police Station at around 11:00 p.m. on September 8, 1987 that a
victim of robbery hold-up was brought to Rizal Medical Center. Pat.
Lorbes, together with a Pat. Meoleta, went to the said hospital and
was informed that the victim’s identity was Leonardo Garcia. After
gathering more information from the victim’s sister, Pat. Lorbes
went immediately to the scene of the crime specifically at San
Agustin Street at the back of the Public Market, Pasig, Metro Manila.
However, he failed to gather any information on the commission of
the crime or identities of the assailants, since no one among those he
interviewed witnessed the incident.4
On September 9, 1987, Cpl. Arnaldo Limpoco and Pfc. Reynaldo
Zapata were dispatched to a particular stall along San Agustin St.,
Public Market, Pasig to look for a certain “Eddie” and another
surnamed Tupaz in connection with the death of Leonardo. Upon
finding the two, the police officers asked them whether they had
knowledge of the stabbing incident, to which they allegedly answered
in the affirmative. “Eddie,” accused

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2 Original Records, p. 14.


3 Rollo, p. 21.

4 TSN, May 27, 1988, pp. 3-4.

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348 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
People vs. De Jesus
Edgardo de Jesus, then surrendered to the officers two bladed
weapons: one ten-inch dagger and one eleven-inch stainless
knife.5 “Eddie” and Tupaz, herein appellant Carlos Tupaz, were
brought by the officers to police headquarters, where they were
turned over to Pat. Lorbes. The two were then interrogated by Pat.
Lorbes6 without the assistance of counsel.7 On September 10, 1987,
Pat. Lorbes fetched a lawyer from CLAO, Atty. Oscar Saldivar, and
in the latter’s presence, reduced the statements of the two accused
to writing. Both accused signed their respective statements.8
On the other hand, appellant Carlos Tupaz had a different version
of his arrest. He testified that he was a market vendor and owns a
stall at the Pasig Public Market selling pineapples, cabbages,
stringbeans, bananas and other fruits and vegetables.9 He has been in
this trade for four years and practically live, eat and sleep in said
stall.
He claimed that in the morning of September 9, 1987, while he
was tending his stall at the Public Market in Pasig, three men in
civilian clothes entered his stall, poked a gun at him and begun
searching the place. After which, he was mauled and was forced to
board a jeep. While inside the jeep, he continued receiving blows until
they reached the Police Headquarters of Pasig.10
At the police headquarters, appellant was placed in one of the
detention cells. Around midnight, he was taken out of his cell by Cpl.
Limpoco and brought to a room where he was handcuffed and
blindfolded by Cpl. Limpoco. Cpl. Limpoco then began mauling him,
all the while forcing him to admit killing somebody at the market.
After three hours, appellant was returned to his cell. The following
day, September 10, 1987, appellant asked to see a doctor, but was
refused by the jail guard.

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5 TSN, March 14, 1988, pp. 2-7.

6 TSN, id., p. 5.

7 TSN, August 30, 1988, p. 6.

8 TSN, May 27, 1988, p. 5; August 30, 1988, p. 6.

9 TSN, March 7, 1989, pp. 5-6.

10 TSN, March 7, 1989, pp. 6-8.

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People vs. De Jesus
At 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon of that same day Pat. Lorbes took
him to the CLAO office to sign some documents (Exhibit “K”), with a
warning and threat not to say anything about the incident which
transpired the night before.11 Appellant Tupaz denied knowing
Eduardo de Jesus, or “Boy Negro” until he met them in jail. He also
denied furnishing the answers in his alleged statement,12although he
admitted that it was his signature which appeared thereon. In fact,
he never gave a statement to the police that he was a truck helper,
because he is not, as he is a vegetable and fruit vendor.
As observed by the trial court:
“After a thorough assessment of the evidence submitted in this case, the Court is given the
impression that the prosecution mainly relied on the sworn statements in the nature of
confessions given by both the accused Carlos Tupaz and Eduardo de Jesus before the police
investigator, Pfc. Rogelio Lorbes, sometime in the morning of September 10, 1987; and
their supplementary sworn statements which may also be construed as confessions given
before the same investigator sometime on October 26, 1987, both of which identified the
other accused Ruel Capistrano upon the latter’s arrest, as their companion when they
robbed and killed the victim Leonardo Garcia that night of September 8, 1987 somewhere
at San Agustin Street, Volante, New Public Market, Pasig, Metro Manila.”13

There being no other witness to the crime, the court itself relied
heavily on the sworn statements of the accused declaring that their
“interlocking confessions which were corroborated in some aspects
by some other evidence” leaves “very little doubt”14 (italics ours)
that they were responsible for the crime.
The trial court further said:
“The Court viewed with jaundiced eyes the protestations of Tupaz and de Jesus when they
testified that they did not know the contents of the documents presented to them and were
forcibly made

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11 TSN, id., pp. 11-13.

12 Exhibit “K.”

13 Decision, p. 16.

14 Decision, p. 23.

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350 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
People vs. De Jesus
to sign each one of them because of physical maltreatment that they suffered in the hands
of police officers.

xxx

“They could have blurted out to the fiscal that these statements were extracted from
them by force and intimidation and the fiscal could easily order their detention elsewhere
such as the provincial jail so that they may be beyond the clutches of their captors. But they
did not. This is one significant factor determinative of the falseness of their claim that they
were not aware of the contents of the documents executed by them and that their
signatures or thumbmarks were affixed thereon through force and threats.”
While there is some merit in the above pronouncement of the trial
judge, but has the prosecution established the burden of evidence of
proof beyond reasonable doubt? Is the alleged extrajudicial confession
admissible in evidence? If so, is it sufficient to convict?
In the case of Morales vs. Ponce Enrile15 this Court laid down the
correct procedure for peace officers to follow when making an arrest
and in conducting a custodial investigation:
“At the time a person is arrested, it shall be the duty of the arresting officer to inform him
of the reason for the arrest and he must be shown the warrant of arrest, if any. He shall be
informed of his constitutional rights to remain silent and to counsel, and that any
statement he might make could be used against him. The person arrested shall have the
right to communicate with his lawyer, a relative, or anyone he chooses by the most
expedient means—by telephone if possible—or by letter or messenger. It shall be the
responsibility of the arresting officer to see to it that this is accomplished. No custodial
investigation shall be conducted unless it be in the presence of counsel engaged by the person
arrested, by any person on his behalf or appointed by the court upon petition either of the
detainee himself or by anyone on his behalf. The right to counsel may be waived but the
waiver shall not be valid unless made with the assistance of counsel. Any statement obtained
in violation of the procedure herein laid down, whether exculpatory or inculpatory in whole
or in part, shall be inadmissible in evidence.”

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15 G.R. No. 61016 & 61107, 121 SCRA 538 (1983).

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VOL. 213, SEPTEMBER 2, 1992 351
People vs. De Jesus
In this instant case, the investigating officer Pfc. Rogelio Lorbes
admitted that the two accused, Tupaz and de Jesus were turned
over to him for investigation on September 9, 1987 by the CID,
interviewed them and solicited from them facts and information
surrounding the robbery hold-up with homicide without the
assistance of a lawyer. The facts and information were later reduced
to writing on September 10, 1987 in the presence of a CLAO
lawyer, a certain Atty. Saldivar.16 Considering such circumstances,
there was an apparent violation of the accused right to counsel. The
right to counsel attaches upon the start of an
investigation, i.e., when the investigating officer starts to ask
questions to elicit information or confession or admission from the
accused.17
Appellant in this case was already arrested as one of the principal
suspects in the killing of Garcia when he was turned over to Pfc.
Lorbes for investigation. According to the testimony of Cpl. Limpoco,
he, together with his team, was ordered to make a follow-up
investigation of a stabbing incident that happened at the New Pasig
Public Market on or about September 8, 1987; and that their target
persons were one Eddie and another Tupaz.18 Consequently, the
“interview” conducted by Pfc. Lorbes cannot be considered merely as
a general inquiry but rather a custodial investigation. Custodial
investigation is the stage where the police investigation is no longer a
general inquiry into an unsolved crime but has began to focus on a
particular suspect who had been taken into custody by the police
who carry out a process of interrogation that lends itself to elicit
incriminating statements. It is when questions are initiated by law
enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or
otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way.19
As to the other constitutional pre-condition, particularly that of
the Miranda warning, the trial court was convinced that this

________________

16 TSN, August 30, 1988, p. 6.

17 Arroyo vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 96602, 20 February 1991, Minute Resolution.

18 TSN, March 14, 1988, pp. 2-3.

19 Miranda vs. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444.


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352 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
People vs. De Jesus
was met in as much as the sworn statements20 show that this was
complied with. We disagree. In the case of People vs. Jara,21 this
Court through Justice Gutierrez, said:
“[The] stereotyped ‘advice’ appearing in practically all extrajudicial confessions which are
later repudiated has assumed the nature of ‘legal form’ or model. Police investigators either
automatically type it together with the curt ‘Opo’ as the answer or ask the accused to sign
it or even copy it in their handwriting. Its tired, punctilious, fixed and artificially stately
style does not create an impression of voluntariness or even understanding on the part of
the accused. The showing of a spontaneous, free and unconstrained giving up of a right is
missing.”

It is impossible that the accused-appellant really took part in the


robbery hold-up, but the Court is not persuaded to the point of
moral certainty, which is the high standard of proof required for
conviction. If We disregard the extrajudicial confession, We find that
the prosecution has no other evidence to sustain a finding of guilty
beyond reasonable doubt.
So often has it been said that it is better for one hundred criminals
to go free than for one innocent man to be convicted. That is the
reason why We require the constitutional presumption of innocence
to be offset only by most persuasive of proofs that will establish the
guilt of the accused beyond the whisper of doubt.22
WHEREFORE, finding that the guilt of the accused-appellant
Carlos Tupaz has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt, the
decision of the lower court is hereby REVERSED and the
accused-appellant is ACQUITTED.
SO ORDERED.

Narvasa (C.J., Chairman), Padilla and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Melo, J., No part.


Decision reversed.

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20 Exhibit “K.”

21 G.R. No. L-61356-57, 144 SCRA 516 (1986).

22 People vs. Capilitan, G.R. No. 73382, 182 SCRA 313 (1990).

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VOL. 213, SEPTEMBER 2, 1992 353
Estate Developers and Investors Corp. vs. Court of Appeals

Note.—The moment the appellant was arrested or voluntarily


surrendered to the peace officer, the custodial investigation is
deemed to have started, hence, appellant could not be asked
thenceforth about his complicity in the offense without the assistance
of counsel (People vs. Lim,196 SCRA 809).

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